The Omega Pharma-Quickstep team demonstrated why they are a force in the Team Time Trial discipline by taking the opening stage victory in Tirreno-Adriatico. OPQ led by world time trial champion Tony Martin and boasting a lightning fast squad including the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish outclassed the rest of the field, including an 11 second lead over Orica-GreenEdge.
Mark Cavendish led the squad across the line in 20:13 for the 18.5km test from Donoratico to San Vincenzo, and thereby becomes the first leader of Tirreno-Adriatico for the second consecutive year.
[quote_box_center]”You have to get everything perfect to win a team time trial and so it’s always more rewarding when you pull it off and you get to stand on the podium together.” Cavendish said[/quote_box_center]
Omega Pharma-Quickstep are likely to retain the leaders blue jersey for the next couple of days, which are flat stages bound to be dominated by the sprinters. The victory also puts distance between its GC leaders – Michal Kwiatkowski, who donned the best young rider’s jersey, and Rigoberto Uran – and the rest of the overall contenders. The first mountain test on stage 4 will be crucial for the pair, and Kwiatkowski was happy to have a buffer.
Movistar’s Nairo Quintana is the closest to the Quickstep pair, only 18 seconds back, while former Tour winner, Alberto Contador is well positioned after his Tinkoff-Saxo team finished fourth at 24sec.
Ivan Basso and his Cannondale team finished a respectable fifth, slotting in 26 seconds behind OPQS, while Team Sky was a whisker further behind, leaving Richie Porte with 27 seconds to make up.
André Greipel will have to pull off something special to contend for the blue jersey in the sprints over the next two stages, as his Lotto Belisol finished off the pace in seventh, at 28 seconds.
Former Tirreno-Adriatico winner Cadel Evans was poorly supported by his BMC team, which finished 47 seconds off the pace, leaving him with quite a bit of catching up to do. Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) fared even worse, and now sits at 53 seconds.
The Sky team of 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins were a disappointing sixth, 27sec off the pace.
Cavendish is likely to defend his leaders’ jersey on stage two with the 166km largely flat run from San Vincenzo to Cascina suited to the sprinters.
Stage 1: 18.5km TTT, Donoratico to San Vincenzo
1 Omega Pharma=QuickStep 20min 13sec
2 Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:11
3 Movistar 0:00:18
4 Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:24
5 Cannondale 0:00:26
6 Sky 0:00:27
7 Lotto-Belisol 0:00:28
8 Trek Factory Racing 0:00:36
9 Belkin 0:00:37
10 FDJ.fr 0:00:43
11 BMC 0:00:47
12 IAM 0:00:50
13 Lampre-Merida 0:00:53
16 Astana 0:21:07
17 Giant-Shimano 0:21:08
18 Garmin-Sharp 0:21:17
19 Katusha 0:21:19
20 Bardiani-CSF 0:21:30
21 MTN-Qhubeka 0:21:32
22 Europcar 0:21:41
1 Mark Cavendish (GBR) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 20min 13sec
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
3 Rigoberto Uran (COL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4 Mark Renshaw (AUS) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
5 Wouter Poels (NED) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
6 Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:02
7 Tony Martin (GER) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:03
8 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:11
9 Simon Clarke (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE
10 Luke Durbridge (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE